The KellyAnne Conway School of Customer Service

It’s just a few weeks into a new year and unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve been exposed to interviews with White House Counselor KellyAnne Conway. She has masterfully demonstrated how to dodge questions, provide “alternate facts” and generally frustrate the media in their efforts to get to the truth. In a recent interaction with Samsung, I’m convinced that the customer service agent received training from KellyAnne, as I’ve never experienced such a roundabout set of back-and-forth email communications from any major brand — ever!

KellyAnne Conway[Editor’s note: Update — Today, White House officials told CNNMoney that Kellyanne Conway has been sidelined from TV appearances because her comments last week about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn contradicted those of the White House. On Fox News, she denied being sidelined.]

It’s just a few weeks into a new year and unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve been exposed to interviews with White House Counselor KellyAnne Conway. She has masterfully demonstrated how to dodge questions, provide “alternate facts” and generally frustrate the media in their efforts to get to the truth.

In a recent interaction with Samsung, I’m convinced that the customer service agent received training from KellyAnne, as I’ve never experienced such a roundabout set of back-and-forth email communications from any major brand — ever!

Let me start with a little background: I don’t know about you, but I am not happy when it comes time to replace my mobile phone. Just as I get all my settings to work the way I want, and can flick screens, open apps and manipulate my device with minimal effort, the device inevitably starts to fail. First, it started shutting itself down when my power level fell below 50 percent, then it would freeze at the most inopportune moments, and finally, when it refused to hold any charge at all, I cried “Uncle!”

Okay, all you iPhone owners can start snickering now … because I own a Samsung Galaxy (and no, not the kind that self-ignites), and have done so since my Blackberry became a dangerously obsolete option (I still miss that qwerty keyboard!)

I braced myself for that ugly visit to the AT&T store. The one where no one seems to know how to import my contacts, or set up my email; true in keeping with my past experience, I was in the store for a full two hours and left with my old phone, a new phone and a promise to return in 24-hours after I had figured out how to set up my Exchange Server email myself. But that’s a story for another day.

The fun really started after I was upsold a Samsung tablet for $0.99 in the AT&T store. That probably should have been my first clue …

About 24-hours after my purchase, I received an email from Samsung congratulating me on my Tablet purchase and offering me 30 percent off on a tablet cover. Since I planned to carry my Tablet in my bag as a notepad, I figured a cover was a wise purchase decision. I copied the promotional code, and clicked the link.

The landing page presented me with a number of colorful Tablet cover options. I carefully looked at each one, compared the colors, the way they opened/closed, made my purchase selection, pasted the promotional code and checked out.

But when the Tablet cover arrived 10-days later, it was too big for my Tablet!

I immediately went to the Samsung customer service link and advised them of my plight. The customer service agent, Brian, started the conversation just like KellyAnne had taught him. Repeat the key word used in the question, but take your answer in another direction.

Even though I had clearly laid out the details of my transaction, Brian advised me that if my tablet type and the tablet cover purchased “matched” I would be offered a full refund. Since this was my first clue that there was a “tablet type” we all know where this is going … clearly they were not going to match because the cover didn’t fit!

After a very convoluted set of email exchanges, it turns out there are multiple tablet types, and even though Samsung knew what type of tablet I had purchased (it’s all about BIG data!), it never occurred to Samsung marketing people to send me to a landing page that presented tablet covers that would actually fit the device I had purchased. Instead, knowing I might own multiple tablets and want to purchase one for every tablet I owned, they presented me with all their tablet cover options. Never once did they point out “make sure you select a tablet cover that fits YOUR particular tablet type” or “Hey you idiot, there are multiple tablet types. Check your receipt to learn which tablet type you purchased and match it to the tablet cover.”

Call me dumb, but I honestly thought marketing would have linked their email to a landing page with covers that fit my device, and then offered a link to additional covers in case I owned additional devices. Now that would have made for a smooth customer journey.

Brian was not very helpful either. He ignored any facts relating to the email conversation I presented, he was dismissive of any data exchanges between AT&T and Samsung, and his reality was that I made a purchase error … and it was all my problem. Golly gee, KellyAnne trained you very well!

Now I can’t decide if I should pay to return the cover and get a new one, or simply sell the cover on e-Bay or sell the cover and the Tablet and call it a day. If you’re interested in any of these options, email me and I’m sure we can cut a deal that doesn’t involve Russia.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

42 thoughts on “The KellyAnne Conway School of Customer Service”

  1. It appears that with the change in political parties in DC that Target Marketing is showing its true colors–Blue! Not surprising but nevertheless annoying. I for one am not impressed with the daily hashing and gashing of all things Trump. If I wanted that I could go to any one of multitudes of other left-leaning sites. I don’t recall daily “briefings” from TM when Obama was in office. So…knock it off.

    1. Obama never gave the world such a daily reality show! Or should it be “Alternate Reality Show!” Whether one is for or against you-know-who, you have to admit that we’ve never seen anything like what we’ve seen for the past 30-ish days….

      1. “…we’ve never seen…” You only see what the media wants you to see. Propaganda is the brain food for the mob. It influences attitudes, prejudices and behavior. They frame the questions, the narrative, the images to their own purposes. As advertisers, we should know this better than anyone else.

    2. Oh, honestly. Even a marketer whose political loyalty is as red as the stripes on the American flag can see she treats the truth like a clown twisting a balloon dog. This was a great piece with salient points, and that is not an alternative fact.

  2. @Carolyn Great post and something I’ve observed as well. After years of promoting transparency and being customer-centric it seems we are backsliding into obfuscation and deceit in the interest of revenue.

    Ultimately I believe that customer-centric companies that put customers first by leveraging big data to provide an outstanding customer experience will win out over those spewing “fake news” (i.e., features and benefits) in the interest of making a quick buck rather than earning a customer for life.

  3. I completely agree 100% that Samsung missed the boat to make both a good impression AND give you the best customer service possible. It should have been a link geared specifically for your type of tablet. Having said that you, as a consumer, ignored the primary ‘rule’ of buying online; double-check and re-check that the item(s) you are buying actually fit your need/application. Never make an assumption with an online purchase. It’s your responsibility to make sure that what you buy is correct for you. Ideally, your AT&T store is the logical place for you to have looked at covers and the staff there should have suggested it to you at the point of purchase. Here is where the true stumble occurred in my opinion. Sadly, in our need to have a 1,000 choices and yet no room to see them all we are at the mercy of drop-ship expectations for many items we buy anymore.

    1. While you’re right I might have looked at covers at POS, but after 2 hours of frustration with my account transfer/set up, I was done with AT&T.

      You are correct in that I NEVER should have assumed anything. Lesson learned. But as marketers, our job is to make the customer buying journey as simple and seamless as possible. And for that, Samsung gets an “F.”

      1. I totally agree…we need to market not only our products but our services and the value we give to our clients. Make it easy for our clients to access us and give them useful links, information and options. A good CSR rep at AT&T should have informed/given you the options for your tablet and let you know that Samsung would send something your way via email. That would have been the 1st step. Even though Samsung had upset you as a consumer you would not have been so put out with AT&T allong with Samsung. The end result to both companies? You are looking for a different provider AND a different product. That’s a double fail that could have been avoided with a touch of forethought to the consumer experience.

  4. Idea: Be a true journalist and try to maintain objectivity and political neutrality. Kellyanne Conway can think and speak circles around you. Her occasional flubs are to be expected in the fog of war with the hostile media.

  5. I have enjoyed the quality information from Target Marketing since 1995. This article had nothing to do with KellyAnne or her training tactics at Samsung. Congrats on joining the Fake News media and making every article questionable. This isn’t the first time I’ve been misled by you Thorin (and yes I blame the leader). Is ‘Click Bait’ the new normal?

    1. So anything you read that you don’t agree with is “fake news”? If you are truly a purveyor of quality information you’d know better than to jump on the cliche bandwagon and superficially label this article as fake. How do you know the author is lying about her experience? You don’t. Maybe she could have picked a better analogy, maybe she could have accepted more responsibility for her role in the tablet cover debacle, but to slap this label on her and her article, and all her future articles is childish and ignorant. Is wanton judgement by conservatives the new normal?

      1. Normally, I don’t respond to trolling, but today I will. My knee-jerk response to you (like yours to me) is “Yes”. I’ve been dealing with customer service issues, and Samsung, for years. Their tactics are and have been the same. Long before KellyAnne entered the picture. I followed the link expecting some insights about KellyAnne’s customer service or some type of direct link of her to Samsung. Call me naïve. And I didn’t acknowledge or disagree with the author’s customer service experience. Please slow down and read (to comprehend) what I wrote. I agree with you that she should have accepted more responsibility in her purchase decision, but I chalk that up to trying to making an article from nothing but poor buying skills in this digital century. I still take umbrage to the Click Bait style of this article. Sorry I didn’t answer all of your questions, but based on your facile answer they appear to be rhetorical.

        1. Thanks for responding to my post – can we put aside the smugness? Engaging in discussion with people who disagree with you on some legitimate points isn’t trolling; it’s dialogue. I agree with you that the headline was clickbait, especially since everyone at some point has had a frustrating customer service experience at some point and practically everyone in America knows who Kellyanne Conway is and why she’s controversial right now. My questions aren’t rhetorical, though: If you’ve been studying Target Marketing and customer service issues for 20+ years, why call them “fake” all of a sudden? You acknowledged that you’ve felt misled before, but here you are, still reading their publication. It must still hold value for you. Why paint them with a broad smear that echoes absolute mistrust in all media? Words matter, and it’s alarming how many people are throwing around trite buzzwords that are having real consequences in the way we entrench ourselves in our beliefs and our attitudes toward others. I’m thinking (probably the same as you, based on your comments above) that it was a slow news day, author was on deadline to produce something, and this topic was the most convenient. But instead of lazily calling it fake news, let’s call it for what it is – clickbait, sloppy, lazy, boring, overdone – whatever it is that really bothers you about this article – and demand better next time.

          1. Is ‘Click Bait’ the new normal? My question to Carolyn Goodman (whom is reading the comments and responding to affirmative comments).
            So anything you read that you don’t agree with is “fake news”? No, but comparing a political spokesperson to a faceless, nameless customer service representative is incendiary and unfair. Hence the same use of vernacular.
            How do you know the author is lying about her experience? Never once mentioned the author’s experience or addressed her story in my comment.
            Is wanton judgement by conservatives the new normal? Not sure if wanton judgement by conservatives is normal. I am a liberal Democrat and sometimes feel that every article and comment is now judged as liberal or conservative based on the point of view of the reader.
            Can we put aside the smugness? No.
            If you’ve been studying Target Marketing and customer service issues for 20+ years, why call them “fake” all of a sudden? I thought by using the latest trend and similar vernacular (as was used by Carolyn Goodman), it might elicit a reply by her. And if you want to check track-backs to other comments by me across multiple platforms, you would notice that my trend towards this viewpoint has been gradual.
            Why paint them with a broad smear that echoes absolute mistrust in all media? I believe the broad smear was started in the article by the author towards Samsung, and by pointing out a disturbing trend by a well respected publication, that this said trend will be addressed and rectified. As a long time reader and subscriber, I do demand better next time.

          2. Then we agree that this author used a cheap shot like “clickbait” to draw readers in? If I did that I’d be called a sleazebag.

  6. Was this article truly written to address the needs of marketers. Lost the politics or lose half of your subscribers. Marketing is for capitalists, and most of us are just that.

    1. She’s just another political zealot and Trump hater. They are a dime a dozen these days and can’t separate the best interests of everyone else from their politics. She just liked the comment calling KAC a “clown twisting a balloon dog.” Not professional at all and should be fired.

  7. Your problem, Carolyn, is, sadly, hardly unique. And as frustrated and angry as we become when we can’t get things to work, it is partly our own fault. We applaud the latest gadgets and apps: why not, it gives us a better product; But the more complicated, the greater the potential for unintentional screw up. If there was one tablet size and one cover in a variety of colors, it would be simple- even if they sent you the wrong color.

    Your suggestion that KellyAnne is the guru of alternative fact answers to simple questions is right on. I don’t ever want to see her or hear her winy voice again. I need someone to recommend a remedy to my odious Trump’news’ addiction other than turning off all communications devices.

    That, in fact, may be the answer to your problem as well as mine. If we don’t turn them on in the first place, we don’t have to know what all those apps are supposed to do.

    That’s a win-win.

    1. Thanks @Peter Rosenwald. The more complicated the marketplace, the more we marketers need to simplify it for our customers. If I were Samsung, I might track how many people ordered the wrong Tablet cover as a result of their sloppy email offer. But that would mean analyzing big data… and clearly that is outside their purview.

      1. I just went through a surreal series of phone calls with United Health Care to purchase a month of COBRA for my daughter. Sadly, Carolyn, they’re one of several monopolies in my state and as such, feel no need or presure to offer good customer service. Their website is confusing, the call center people don’t give consistent answers, and they can’t process payments for COBRA except through the mail! I just wished as a company they could all agree on the same alternative facts they gave me.

  8. Good God, Goodwin, Kellyanne is a political consultant. What do you expect? And why bring her into what is supposed to be discussion on marketing?

    Everyone who reads this is very familiar with bait and switch tactics, and that’s all this was. You should be ashamed of being that kind of writer. If I continue my subscription here, I’ve learned my lesson about reading anything written by you. I’ll avoid it like the yellow journalism it is.

    BTW: Why don’t you comment on what the Democrat political consultants have been saying? Everything they say sound like a threat, and would be far more interesting to your blueish colored readers, if any.

    The whole point is that she won and Hillary didn’t. That’s what makes her a very good consultant. She outdid the Hillary who was considered a shoe-in. Very good politicking if you ask me. I have to admire the expertise. Don’t you?

    And I didn’t even vote in this election for the first time in my life.
    If you think that generating a lot of comments will make you famous, well, you got that wrong.

  9. I came here because of the subject line. So I’d have to say the email was a success. Now about those folks unsubscribing…

    1. …they’re very touchy and defensive about some of today’s “reality politics” TV characters. The idea of a successful email is to stand out, get noticed –– and get you to click through. So why all the hate and name calling? KAC has either 1) real problems with her credibility, or 2) the perception of problems with her credibility. You don’t have to agree with Ms. Goodman to acknowledge that. Ask yourself, “If I were Kelly Anne Conway, how would I fix that?”

      1. And who does KAC have credibility issues with, the left? LOL! Typical journalista clickbait tactic used to sling mud and watch the mob fight. It’s disgusting. People like this aren’t fit to print anything objectively. No balance. No fairness ever. This is America not some republic of bigots so blind by there ideology that they can’t even write a trade article without insulting half of our country’s citizens.

        1. More like 40% right now. Ya know, this isn’t the only article at Target Marketing about marketing. You’re free to move on any time you want to. Look, we all wish Mr. 45 was doing a better job, but guess what? It doesn’t feel like that to too many people. It’s that simple. Maybe you’re really mad about that? I’m a firm believer that in business, what people percieve about you is nearly as important as the “facts” are about your business. Ms. KAC is facing an uphill battle on this. Personally, if I EVER wrote product copy with ANY “alternative facts” I would be given a pink slip before the day was over.

  10. It’s seems that Target Marketing and Carolyn Goodman are using their business audience to take cheap shots at the new administration. I came for the marketing insight – I don’t need your commentary on the political landscape. Unsubscribed.

  11. Wow, there is no stone you can turn over and not find some Trump hater trying to twist the intent and purpose of everything this administration is trying to do for this country. This propaganda is slipped in everywhere, from our kindergartens to even this obscure trade article. The whole “alternative facts” comment centered around the left wing media’s portrayal that hardly any citizens showed up for the inauguration. It was a total lie. It is a typical and daily propaganda deception to marginalize the presidency at an unprecedented and rabid level never seen before in this country. Really divisive, disrespectful and disgusting, but not surprising given that 90% of all employed in the media are left wingers.”Journalistas!” as we used to call them in banana republics to the south! Those are the real alternative facts comrade. Labeling KAC a liar is simply a reflection on yourselves.

  12. This article has NOTHING to do with marketing. Just political propaganda. Look at the Editor’s Note presented as Breaking News! What is the purpose for mentioning that under the guise of targeted marketing? How is that even remotely related to Samsung or customer service? They just blame anyone not in their party and have no integrity whatsoever. I’ll never forget how the crazies asserted that it was Sarah Palin’s fault when Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was shot (by one of her disgruntled minions!). There’s your alternative facts. The ACA, the lie of Ferguson, Missouri that cost more lives and the career and safety of that poor cop? Lies lies lies every second.

  13. …soooo disappointing, dear Carolyn. I am sad that you, who are usually level-headed and professional, have sold out for a cheap liberal media shot smearing the Trump administration. Resorting to media hysteria absolutely undermines anything useful you want to convey. Reflects poorly on the entire site.

  14. Carolyn is a stooge for the fake news media and would be better employed at CNN for her lies and dishonesty. Target Marketing is treading a thin line and better watch out if it wants to be reputable – keep your political opinions out of everything or else join the far left and admit it before publishing anything!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *